Why Are People So Crazy About E-Cigarettes?


The California Department of Public Health has decided — no joke here — that e-cigarets are “a community health threat.” Reason’s Jacob Sullum reports:

The report includes the same lame claims that people who hate vaping for subrational reasons tend to offer when they try to justify their gut reactions to products that offend them mainly because they look too much like the real thing. There is the purported epidemic of poisonings involving children whose parents fail to keep e-cigarette fluid out of reach, the absurd insistence that candy or fruit flavors must be aimed at children because they could not possibly appeal to adults, the worry that vaping will encourage teenagers to smoke by making it seem cool again or by getting them hooked on nicotine (even though smoking among teenagers has reached record lows as experimentation with e-cigarettes has risen dramatically), and the warning that e-cigarette vapor, despite very low levels of just a few problematic substances, may pose a threat to bystanders because no one has conclusively proven that it doesn’t. Generally speaking, these claims amount to unsubstantiated speculation or an alarmist spin on actual facts. But at least one crucial statement in the report is simply false: “There is no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers successfully quit traditional cigarettes.”

It would be fair to say there is not a lot of scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are effective in helping smokers quit (although the testimony of former smokers surely should count for something). But there is some evidence.

Read the whole thing.

My only experience with e-cigarettes is my friend Matt, who had tried and failed in every attempt to quit smoking. Now he vapes instead of smokes, and enjoys the pleasures nicotine provides but without all the lung damage, coughing, cancer risk, etc. To me, that’s a big plus. And as a former smoker myself, the only reason I’ve never tried vaping is that I’m afraid the busybodies like those in California will eventually succeed in getting e-smokes banned. But it sure is tempting, because there’s nothing like a mild nicotine buzz with that first morning cup of coffee, or with a snifter of brandy after a big meal.

So why all the fuss from the busybodies? My best guess is that people are enjoying themselves doing something which the busybodies didn’t pre-approve — a major stumbling block on the road to that happy place where everything which isn’t compulsory is forbidden.